Saturday night's game didn't quite go they way hockey fans were expecting. With Alexander Ovechkin and the Caps in town to play the last-place Leafs, a blowout seemed inevitable. When it was announced that struggling Vesa Toskala would start for Toronto, even the most die-hard Leaf fans was expecting the Caps to hit double digits.
It didn't happen. Instead, Ovechkin managed a goal but was largely shutdown by the Leafs during an upset 2-1 win for the home side.
Adding to the mystery was Ovechkin's bizarre post-game excuse: that he "couldn't breathe" due to the "atmosphere" inside the ACC. Yes, he really did say that.
Well, it gets even stranger. Because as it turns out, the ACC's suffocating atmosphere was only one of several excuses Ovechkin offered for failing to light up the Leafs as expected. Apparently the local papers didn't print them all due to lack of space, but I've reproduced the full list below.
- Had specifically requested his special "too hot to handle" sticks for the game; instead, sticks were only slightly above normal temperature.
- Entire Caps team was thrown off when, despite the tendencies they had noted during hours of film study, Vesa Toskala occasionally moved.
- Paid too much attention to the fans in the ACCs' lower bowl, leading him to assume the pre-game moment of silence was still going on three hours later.
- Was initially intimidated upon learning that the Leafs had spent $24M on their defence; had mistakenly assumed it might include some good players.
- Found it hard to concentrate after suddenly getting that "Ovechkin-Laichs-Semin" joke.
- Didn't want to single-handedly humiliate Ron Wilson and Brian Burke with completely unstoppable and dominating performance; saving that for Olympics.
- Would have scored more, but Jonas Gustavsson kept making sprawling glove saves from the bench.
- Has been scared to score ever since seeing this.
- During pre-game chat, Jason Blake assured him that first-line wingers could float through games in Toronto with absolutely no consequences.
- Hasn't quite adjusted to the NHL's brand new "Alexander Ovechkin can't just go around slewfooting everyone" rule.
- Had heard a rumor that if the game went to a shootout, entire Leafs roster would embarrass themselves with a ridiculously demeaning attempt at rally caps.
- Um, pretty much the same reason Lebron James doesn't dunk on the wheelchair basketball guys.